Shoes and Socks: A Taste Test

Dogs use their teeth to explore the world much the way we use the Internet. A dog’s mouth and tongue serve as router and modem, while its excretory system works like Comcast.

Whether having teeth leads to chewing or chewing is the outcome of having teeth is a “chicken or the egg” paradox, although dogs will eat both so why are we even debating? Let’s instead focus on the reasons dogs chew my shoes and socks and, to a lesser extent, yours.

Chewing is a perfectly normal canine behavior. In fact, the word canine is Latin for “He ruined what?” Puppies and young dogs might chew to relieve teething pain. Older dogs chew to combat boredom, ease anxiety, or reduce frustration. Some chew simply as a way to prop up the international leather trade. Whatever the cause, to correct an inappropriate chewing behavior, the thoughtful canine owner must first ask, “He ruined what?”

Who chewed the shoes? Can you solve this Minute Mystery? For the answer, turn to page 159.
Who chewed the shoes? Can you solve this Minute Mystery? For the answer, turn to page 159.

So, what is “inappropriate” for dogs to chew? This varies from dog to dog depending on their size, age, and the dietary restrictions of their religion. However, generally banned items include:

• Shoes, socks
• Children
• The military
• Another shoe and sock, damn it!
• (For large dogs) aircraft engine parts before, during flight
• (For small dogs) large dogs
• Six of the current associate justices of the Supreme Court
• Cash, bonds
• Oh, for God’s sake! Another shoe and sock?

Some dogs can quickly learn to avoid forbidden items with just a bit of guidance, a few treats, and an instructional PowerPoint presentation. However, most dogs know exactly what they’re doing when, say, they chew up $75.85 in uncashed checks, as was the case with our formerly alive terrier thing, Oxford.

Giant 2 still insists it was a coincidence that Oxford ravaged four checks taken from four locations over five weeks. It was all just paper to him, she says. He didn’t know any better. He was just a dog!

No, he was a terrier. Some dogs track explosives. Others uncover drug caches. Terriers foment crime. Of course Oxford knew that checks were valuable. Dogs have a surprisingly keen understanding of the Federal Reserve. Also their own sophisticated monetary system based on tennis balls. But Oxford wasn’t after the money. His was a mission to corrupt young Brisby, the schnoodle who can do no wrong.

OXFORD: “Hey, kid. C’mere!”

BRISBY: “But I’m on my way to church, Oxford.”

OXFORD: “Sure, sure. You want ta’ see something?”

BRISBY: “I’m supposed to light candles!”

OXFORD: “Yeah, that can wait. (Noses envelope off desk.) Ever see one of these?”

BRISBY: “Is it a cookie?”

OXFORD: “That’s right, a cookie. But you gotta open it, first. Go on, open it!”

BRISBY: “Okay, Oxford! What’s ‘open?’”

OXFORD: “Oh, for… Gimme that!” (He shreds.)

BRISBY: “I have to go now or I’ll miss hymn howling.”

OXFORD: “Too late, kid. You’re in this as deep as me.”

BRISBY: “Do I still get a cookie?”

Next: Wait! Weren’t we talking about shoes and socks?


Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe,, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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